Wrapping up Taiwan: from Cabazon? to the Taoyuan airport

Palm trees and a huge T-Rex along the highway! We must be in Cabazon, right?

IMG_20231212_101108 by bryandkeith on flickr

It’s actually Chenggong near Fangshan. Kind of weird (like Cabazon).

Our goal was to get to Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, since we had managed to buy train tickets from there to get our bicycles (and us too) north.

Before getting too urban we managed to find this campsite a couple kms NNE of Wulong. There were too many mosquitoes, and it was hot enough that we were sweating just sitting in the tent (in December!).

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Bicycle touring Taiwan: Chishang to Fenggang via Baisha

By our third week in Taiwan we were getting better at choosing good roads. My notes include words like “fantastic” and “brilliant”. However, I also find “too much highway” and “too much traffic”.

We rode through some lush tropical forests, pretty agriculture lands, and also miles and miles of aeration ponds for sewage treatment.

Chishang is known for its rice paddy scenery. The thing that everyone (apparently) needs to do is bicycle out to Mr. Brown Avenue to see the tree made famous by an Eva Air commercial.

IMG_20231207_103427 by bryandkeith on flickr

The street, incidentally, is named after the coffee from an earlier commercial that didn’t get so much hype. The area is, I suppose, more picturesque with the pre-harvest green and gold. Nearby areas are just as nice without the crowds.

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Bicycle touring Taiwan: Heren to Chishang via Taroko Gorge

This week (our second) was better than our first week in Taiwan. We hadn’t fully got away from the traffic, but it was getting better, and of course we visited Taroko Gorge. Two friends had told me that Taroko Gorge was their favorite outing in all of Taiwan. I concur.

This man (below) was one of many people who we met who was walking around Taiwan. Uff, it seems like that would involve lots of walking along busy highways. I can think of better places to walk. Indeed we met one guy from Malaysia who had walked three different Camino de Santiago routes before choosing to walk around Taiwan. The man below, however, is a 64-year-old Taiwanese who had cycled around the island twice before. He knew what he was getting into.

This man was on day 37 of his walk around Taiwan. by bryandkeith on flickr

This section of coast (north of Taroko) certainly has some nice coastal views.

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Bicycle touring Taiwan: Taoyuan to Heren via Keelung

When Jack reached out and asked if Ferda and I were interested in a bicycle tour in Taiwan, we didn’t hesitate. It would be Jack’s first time leaving the US since he was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, he’s had a real adventure including chemotherapy and stem cell treatment. Taiwan wasn’t highest on our list after our short visit to Taipei only nine months earlier, but we were thrilled to be able to go on another adventure with Jack.

Ferda and I had a happily uneventful flight from Narita to Taoyuan (the city with Taipei’s international airport, as Narita is for Tokyo) and left our bicycle boxes at warmshowers hosts in Taoyuan, Julia and Yuhsi.

Ferda, Julia, Yuhsi by bryandkeith on flickr

Dealing with boxed bicycles (in taxis, trains, buses, airplanes) and what to do with those boxes while cycling is often the most stressful part of a bicycle tour. Julia and Yuhsi (and big taxis between the airport and their house) made this very easy for us.

It was a flat, fun ride the next day with a bit of a headwind to get to the centrally located hotel where Jack was waiting for us in Taipei.

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A bit of Honshu: Hiroshima, Kurashiki, Tokyo

On this bus, train, and boat trip from Kyoto to Tokyo (oh so different from my bicycle tour from Tokyo to Kyoto many years ago!), we took Japan’s famous shinkansen twice. Even though 12 countries now have high speed rail networks (and they’re all countries I’ve been to), it was my first time taking a high speed train.

Looks pretty cool, doesn’t it?

IMG_20231118_103647 by bryandkeith on flickr

The longer trip we took was about three hours from Okayama to Tokyo. Turns out to be about the same distance as the 10.5 hour bus ride that Ferda and I took from Çorum to Antalya two months earlier. Moving right along — certainly the farthest I’ve ever traveled overland in three hours.

Our first high speed train took us one morning from Kyoto to Hiroshima. Our first stop in Hiroshima, as I suppose it should be, was the ground-level epicenter of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb explosion. Little Boy was detonated 600m above this spot (at the group of people in front of the white car):

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